A few days ago I learned that HAMSTER Corporation has discontinued several classics from the ACA NEOGEO collection, such as the Super Sidekicks sequel and its final 1995 issue, not counting its spiritual successors. And of course I got a little nervous thinking that the same thing could happen to the first one in 1992.

Because I have the idea of ​​gradually getting the complete collection of these SNK classics, since it is much cheaper than buying a real Neo Geo together with its cartridges, which was one of my teenage dreams. And ever since starting 2022 with the wonderful Ted Lasso as standard, I’ve been homesick for remembering this mythical arcade for direct football lovers.

Super sidekicks, the beautiful sport according to SNK in 1992

At that time I didn’t miss a representative. Doesn’t matter Kick-Off as Sensible Soccer, just like the first FIFA or the beginnings of Konami’s International Super Star Soccer. And speaking of arcades, both Super Sidekicks and Virtua Soccer have been regulars in my beloved city’s arcades.

I’ve always had fond memories of the SNK classic, aside from never being able to replicate it on these emulators. That’s why I had the unique opportunity with ACA NEOGEO, which, without being a very careful collection (a lot of care is missing regarding the history of SNK), served as a perfect excuse to remember and take advantage of the fact that in In 2022 its 30th anniversary will be celebrated. Also, this way I could catch up and play it calmly without losing five bucks left and right. Because at the time it seemed difficult to pin down the path to scoring goals.

In 30 years I hadn’t erased the image of the goalie deflecting balls from almost any position. Some trick was needed… And not by forcing the rebound to finish with a plank or volley immediately. It cost me, I won’t lie to you either. It was only when I saw the video of Néstor from the Con 5 Duros channel, with the help of the expert Carlos Dacosta, that I remembered part of these tricks that I had forgotten from that phase because I had seen other masters on the spot.

Every football game has its tricks and Super Sidekicks was no exception. The machine was very scary in advanced games, skipping any logic in terms of each team’s level or the mastery of the players featured. But if you understood the mechanics of the game, it was relatively easy to score goals. For example, to increase the chance of hitting after a bounce, you had to hold down the fire button because we were anticipating your opponent’s defence.

It wasn’t a video game that offered colorful football in the sense that you couldn’t make elaborate plays or control the presents, which in turn reduced the nature of effective shots from the front, with few entering first except who they were crafted from center to wing in classic English style…

If you look at it from perspective today, a mini-map was missing to know where each footballer was, especially because of this camera that let us see a very small part of the field. We had to be guided by the arrow showing the direction of the next footballer in the face of a possible pass, or already on the edge of the field with the SHOOT warning to indicate that the shot on goal was clear. No, you couldn’t shoot from midfield.

He laid some foundations that were later modified

Great side kicks

Today it’s unthinkable that a soccer game would only have two buttons to perform all the maneuvers, but there were others back then that only had one, like the Sensible Software classic mentioned above. In super sidekicks, a button made a shot or a long pass depending on their position on the field; and already the second button for pass or middle. While without the ball, the same buttons functioned as a mow and a push, respectively, when it was time to defend.

It was strange because technically there weren’t any bugs… except for certain bumps. There it was. What was more curious, however, was discovering another trick in which it was almost more effective not to use mowing to steal, but to simply “walk through” the opposing footballer to take the ball clean. Now mowing was life insurance in extreme situations, especially against experienced players or when the machine wanted to ruin your dream match.

Super Sidekicks was a constant back and forth, with gameplay so streamlined that it’s hard to see today. Part of this error is due to what was said in a few paragraphs earlier, as there were few moves and shots that were effective, although the truth is that a big trick could be snuck in from the top outer corner of the area: a center shot that the keeper sometimes stood still and didn’t move his arms while we sang goal.

On the other hand, with this saga SNK implemented the character of the ace (expert, in its translated version into Spanish) who was nothing more than a player who stood out from the rest of his teammates. Each team had one, but their position varied. And to top it off, we couldn’t change the formation.

Super sidekicks 3

Image of Super Sidekicks 3, currently withdrawn from all digital stores.

Given the success of the first Super Sidekicks, it was less than two years before SNK released its sequel in early 1994. And here came the changes, for better or for worse. Without going any further, a third button was introduced that allowed us to tap the ball while increasing speed, while in defense it was eventually used to switch players. The animations have also been improved.

That opened up new possibilities, such as the trick of head touches until reaching the area … And although he enjoyed better marks than the first in the professional critics, the 1992 classic still pleases him better with the public because it offers a purer experience and without the AI ​​being so creepy.

Unfortunately, the flame was quenched by the slump of EA Sports and Konami with their well-known soccer bets, as 1995’s Super Sidekicks 3 was little more than an update of the sequel. Interestingly enough, this third installment was relaunched in 1998 under the name Neo Geo Cup ’98: The Road to the Victory and adapted into the less popular The Ultimate 11: SNK Football Championship. A cruel fate that forgets its roots (both in name and in formula) for a saga that is still fondly remembered from its days in arcades across Spain.

Great side kicks

Great side kicks

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